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Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Lawmaker proposes allowing man's best friend to be drinking buddy

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA - If dog-loving lawmakers prevail, Fido could soon be sidling up to bar stools around Washington state.

Soggy dogs waiting outside a downtown Olympia pub inspired state Sen. Ken Jacobsen to propose a way to get them in from the cold and rain.

"There's all sorts of places you can bring animals now," said Jacobsen, who doesn't own a dog. "You can take dogs into hotels. My God, some people are carrying dogs in their purses. Why can't we have them in the bars?"

The Seattle Democrat's bill would allow bars and restaurants with liquor licenses to welcome dogs, as long as they accompany their owners and remain well-behaved and leashed. Establishments wouldn't be required to allow dogs, except for service animals.

Janna Goodwin with the National Conference of State Legislatures said she could not find any states that allowed dogs in bars, or any that were considering similar legislation.

A slightly different law that went into effect in Florida last summer allows restaurants, approved by local governments, to permit dogs to eat with their owners outside.

Health officials said the ban on pets in restaurants and bars is based on Food and Drug Administration regulations.

"Animals don't use the toilet and they shed and they sometimes drool, and those are potential issues with food," said Joe Graham, public health adviser for the Washington state Department of Health.

Lisa Owens would like the bill to pass so she could bring her 112-pound Rottweiler, Ida, with her when meeting friends at bars in Olympia.

"If people were asking me to go somewhere and I could bring my dog, I might be more likely to go," she said.

But Mike Duffy, walking along a pier with his German shorthaired pointer, Emma, said he didn't think it was a great idea.

"If you want to take your dog out, go for a walk," he said. "If you want to go to the bar, leave the dog outside or at home."

The Senate Labor, Commerce, Research and Development Committee scheduled a public hearing on Jacobsen's proposal for Jan. 30.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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